In the midst of a serious heatwave, many Houston firefighters have had to operate out of trucks that lack air conditioning. This has prompted the firefighters union to demand the city repair its aging fleet, the Houston Chronicle reported.
Marty Lancton, president of the Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association, told Mayor Sylvester Turner in a letter this week to “dispense with the excuses and political rhetoric about what can or cannot be done.”
“In a city of Houston’s size and prominence, properly resourcing public safety, like other major U.S. cities do, should not just be optional,” Lancton wrote. “It should be a priority.”
Fire Chief Sam Pena said in a statement that the city has hired two contractors to help repair broken AC units on about two dozen firetrucks. The city has also bought more than 50 vehicles that include 24 ambulances and 18 engines as part of an “aggressive vehicle replacement strategy” during the past two years, Pena said.
“Although the number of heat-related injuries has declined from 62 incidents in FY18 to 33 in FY19, we acknowledge that any heat-related emergency to our personnel and any air conditioning unit not working while in an extreme heat advisory is one too many,” Peña added.
The Chronicle noted that the union and Turner have a long-running feud over pay. The union successfully lobbied for a ballot measure to pay firefighters equal to police officers, but a state district judge struck that down in May and the measure now awaits a hearing in the 14th Court of Appeals.